Scenic USA - Kansas

Fox Creek Schoolhouse

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Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse - Strong City, Kansas

Photo by Neil Marcus
Neil's PBase Gallery

     This classic western scene, found on the flowing hills of the Tallgrass Prairie, captures a lone 1880s schoolhouse. Here among the vast, rippled land of southeastern Kansas, where only thin traces of human activity break the tranquil earth of the Flint Hills, visitors come to experience pioneer life on the prairie.
     The Z-Bar Ranch covers more than 15 square miles near Strong City. A refurbished limestone barn, ranch house and vintage schoolhouse standout on this natural prairie ecosystem. Once a shallow sea, the prairie land was rich in limestone and sprinkled with a hard rock called chert. Reflecting the sunís rays, these rocky outcroppings, resembling flint, attracted the attention of would-be pioneering farmers. Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse - Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Unable to be plowed, the Tallgrass Prairie continued on as pastureland, once sustaining buffalo and now cattle.
     Just a half mile north of the Z-Bar Ranch, visitors and students will find the Lower Fox Creek School. Built of native limestone, a handful of students first attended classroom studies in 1884. Mid-east district garden clubs of Kansas selected the one room schoolhouse as a restoration project in 1968. Since then, the National Park Service shared oversite of the Tallgrass Prairie with The Nature Conservatory. The Park Service has developed a program to introduce students to late 19th century school days. Today, school children don period clothing, walk back and forth to the school house carrying their lunch pails, and take up century old curriculum. The Lower Fox Creek School was a typical plains schoolhouse, modeled from the schools that Horace Mann first proposed in the East. Pioneers simply transported their furnishings, family ideas and everyday customs westward to Kansas.


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